Unlike anything ever seen at The Mint Museum before, Brooklyn-based artist Summer Wheat’s Foragers is a monumental piece of public work of art spanning four stories and 3,720 square feet at Mint Museum Uptown’s Robert Haywood Morrison Atrium. A myriad of vibrant panels giving the illusion of stained glass fill the atrium’s 96 windows and weave a story of the people and workforce that have made Charlotte a thriving metropolis.
“In so many ways, Foragers is a monumental tribute to all those anonymous female makers and laborers who have made North Carolina the place that it is today: the Catawba clay workers, the Cherokee basket makers, the enslaved and freed African-American fishers and farmers, the countless woodworkers, weavers, and quilters,” says Jen Sudul Edwards, PhD, the Mint’s chief curator and curator of contemporary art.
Foragers will be on view when The Mint Museum re-opens to the public Sept. 25 and will remain on view through Sept. 6, 2022. Foragers is part of a larger exhibition, In Vivid Color, opening Oct. 16, which brings together four innovative contemporary artists— Wheat, Gisela Colon, Spencer Finch, and Jennifer Steinkamp—who create works celebrating the power of color and its ability to permeate the space around us. Their work is juxtaposed with a selection of paintings and works on paper, drawn primarily from The Mint Museum’s permanent collection, which showcase artists’ more traditional exploration of color.
The magnitude and brilliance of Foragers turns the typical museum experience on its head and creates a transcendent space of contemplation and beauty at a time when a weary public craves an escape—and a spacious, social-distancing-friendly one at that. While standard admission rates apply to the museum’s Level 3 and Level 4 galleries, access to Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium and the Foragers installation is free.
“This gorgeous work will transform Mint Museum Uptown’s atrium space with color and light, making it a must-see destination in Charlotte,” says Todd A. Herman, Ph.D., President and CEO of The Mint Museum.
Summer Wheat’s installation was commissioned by The Mint Museum. The installation and purchase of Foragers was funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artists Fund, which aims to address and rebalance gender representation in museum collections.
“The Wells Fargo Foundation Women Artists Fund is designed to address and help reconcile the imbalance of female representation in museum collections,” says Jay Everette, Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility.
“Just 11 percent of all acquisitions and 14 percent of exhibitions at 26 prominent American museums over the past decade were of work by female artists. According to a joint investigation by In Other Words and artnet News, a total of 260,470 works have entered museums’ permanent collections since 2008. Only 29,247 were by women.”
Foragers celebrates North Carolina’s creativity and industry—those named and anonymous.
“Foragers presents a tradition in which women were the original hunters, technologists, and artists,” says Wheat. “This array of women connected by geometric patterns echoes the psychological space of women supporting each other. They are marching together connecting to creatures from land and water, demonstrating their inherent link to natural elements and to the intricate depths of the unconscious.”
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